The good folks from Catavino are at it again! The theme of this month's "Virtual Wine Tasting" - Spanish Albariños! As with all Catavino Virtual Wine Tastings, you don't need a blog to join in on the fun - just grab a bottle that falls within that month's category and post it directly to Catavino's website.
So - Albariño. I'd heard of this white wine before, even have tasted one or two in the past, but didn't have any distinct recollections to know what to expect, or to steer me in my wine selection. So I did a quick search of what Total Wine in McLean had to offer, and my "choice" became quite simple - they only had one in stock. Thus I ended up with a $15 2006 Val Do Sosego Albariño from the Rías Baixas region of Spain.
Albarino and Rias Baixas
The Albariño grape (called Alvarinho in Portugal) is grown predominantly in Galicia in Northwestern Spain, as well as just across the border in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. As seems to often be the case in the world of wine, Albariños coming from these coastal regions are said to pair quite well with food common to such a locale; in this case, that means seafood. The Rías Baixas DO (Denomination of Origin) is particularly well-known for its Albariños (and not surprisingly, it's seafood!). For additional background info/chatter, check out the Catavino forum set up for this month's tasting where you can read about it directly from the Spanish wine experts (Ryan and Gabrielle).
The 2006 Val Do Sosego Albariño from the Rías Baixas was light gold in color with just a hint of green to it. This immediately made me think of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, and that association was just strengthened by the nose, and again by the palate.
On the nose, I picked out lemon grass and green apple, and Kris was adamant about pear. On the tongue, the lemon-grass came through, and it had a very nice minerally-ness to it. It had a higher-than-average acidity, which made this medium-bodied wine nice and crisp. I've read this phrase a lot, but I think I'd like to use the term "racy acidity" here to describe it - it just seems to fit.
So, given that Albariños are supposed to pair perfectly with seafood we probably should have attempted to cook up some fish for dinner, but that wasn't in the cards for tonight. On a tip from some blog or another, we instead paired this Albariño with Indian food and I must say - it worked really well. It's always a bit tricky to pair Navratan Korma or spicy lentils with anything wine-related, so I was pretty happy with how to find a wine that could do it.
This wine was *very* similar to many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs I've had. I was a little disappointed, not because it wasn't good (it was), but because it wasn't that different from other wines I've had. This wine had a very nice acidity to it, but none of the smoothness or slight creaminess I have heard attributed to Albariños, nor did it have the supposedly-distinctive apricot or peach nose. So at $15 a bottle I thought it was a great wine, but I could pay a couple dollars less and get a very comparable Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that would do the same thing for me. Perhaps I need to try again in case this was an atypical Albariño, although this was the only one carried by my usual wine shop so I'd have to hunt around a bit. But from what I've read from others posting their tasting notes on Catavino, it may be well worth my effort!